TOPIC – DEATH PENALTY AS A PANACEA FOR TERRORISM, CRIME, AND CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA
SUBMITTED BY – JOHN AJAYI
The practice of killing an offender for a crime is not a new practice. Societies throughout the ages see it as a deterrent to grievous offences such as murder. This punishment has found its way into modern times as some states still retain it as an effective punishment for some crimes.
Crimes such as drug trafficking, corruption (above a set limit), rape, the threat and use of violence, terrorism, mutiny and some other grievous crimes are punished by death.
Many have raised highbrows with this form of punishment, calling it inhuman and wicked. Their premise is that some of the convicted persons are later found to be innocent of the crimes they were accused of. They also argue that a convicted person can be reformed and made useful to the society subsequently.
Looking at Nigeria as a country, corruption has been the order of the day since independence. Crime and terrorist activities have become commonplace in different parts of the country. Different governments have tried to put an end to these but only few have been successful. However, the use of death penalty by the Nigerian government proved to be effective in the fight against armed robbery in the 70s and 80s.
The deadly wave of armed robbers like Anini, Dr Ishola Oyenusi, and Monday Osunbor were ended by the firing squad. This reduced the strike of armed robbers in the country. Even though it did not eliminate it. But can a crime such as theft be eliminated?
Corruption is a bane that has been with the country since its inception. It accounts for the slow pace of development the country has experienced since independence. Corruption is rife in government and in the day to day life of people.
It is no longer surprising to hear the indictment of different public officers over the embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds. This has spurred the government to raise the bar in the fight against corruption. However, all targeted efforts have proved to be ineffective. Sadly, there is hardly room in our “over-congested” prisons to accommodate more prisoners.
The digital revolution has made the world come together in the sense that secrecy is hardly guaranteed. Negative, this may seem, but it has a positive side to it. We can easily go online and check on counties who have been successfully fighting drug trafficking, corruption, rape and terrorism. Countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have strict drug laws. The punishment for dealing or having in possession illegal drugs in these countries is the death penalty.
Indonesia has seen the threat drug trafficking poses to the country, hence the death penalty imposed on the offence. China also uses the death penalty to punish grievous offences. Amnesty International noted that China has the highest rate of state-sanctioned executions. Presently, China is on a full blown war against corruption. A lot of the top officials of the Communist Party have been tried and found guilty of corruption and consequently, executed. In China’s fight against corruption, top government officials are not spared. Nigeria needs to follow these examples. In the recent $2.1 billion Arms Scandal, the money meant for the purchase of arms and ammunition were shared by some public office holders. If this had happened in China, executions would have taken place and the money refunded to the government.
If a cue is taken from these countries and the death penalty is imposed on crimes, the rate of crimes, terrorism and corruption will reduce drastically. The government of Chad reintroduced the death penalty to deal with terrorism. This needs to be introduced in Nigeria. Captured terrorists are to be tried immediately and if found guilty, executed immediately. It is baffling to learn that a large number of captured terrorists are still awaiting trial. If death penalties have been handed out to the insurgents in the Northeast, it would have sent a note of warning to those vandalizing pipelines in the South-south.
Looking at the problems of Nigeria as a country, it seems the root cause is the lack of fear and respect for what the law says. Virtually everyone does what favours him or her. Government officials embezzle public funds because they feel they are above the law while the common civil servant collects bribes and performs his duties inefficiently. If the death penalty is put in place to punish corruption, grievous crimes and terrorism, a lot of people will be executed and the international community will definitely raise its eyebrows but the goal of setting an example to other corrupt Nigerians will be achieved. If the sanction is enforced strictly without fear or favour, then the fear of being executed will be in the mind of every Nigerian.
In conclusion, Nigeria is beset with different problems, both internally and externally, but the Country will not be the first to be faced with such problems. Other countries have experienced such and have solved them. All Nigeria needs to do is to apply the methods and approaches these countries employed so as to get the required results. Sacrifices will have to be made but at long last, the end will justify the means. Indonesia is doing it through death penalty, Malaysia is doing it through death penalty, and Nigeria also can do it through death penalty.
“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln.